I was 12 when the call came that Daddy was dead. I would spend the following days in a fog, only half aware of my surroundings as I went through the motions of visitation, funeral, burial, and well-wishes from family and friends. I didn’t know it then, but the full impact of the loss would take me a lifetime to realize.
One would think a girl who only had her daddy for 12 years wouldn’t have much memory of him, or at least wouldn’t have learned much from him to carry through the rest of her life. In this case, one would be wrong.
Daddy taught me more lessons in those few years than many are privileged to learn in a lifetime. Respect, kindness, and die-hard love was knit into me and nurtured by both parents from the moment I was born. My early years were a tumultuous mix of confusing events that tore my parents apart, but that didn’t keep them from loving me with everything they had and teaching me worlds about life.
Father’s Day is always a bittersweet day for me as I feel the weight of Daddy’s loss but at the same time celebrate the most amazing man I’ve ever known, my husband and the father of my children, Steve. There aren’t enough words and there isn’t nearly enough time to describe the depth of love I feel for this man, how he inspires me with every word and action every day, how he shows our sons how to “dad”. He is our family’s hero.
I also celebrate another man who has been pivotal in my life. I call Steve’s dad Papa, and I guess you could say he kind of became my dad when I was 15. He called me a “drowned rat” the first time he saw me, and then sometime shortly thereafter I became his “Little Girl” and have remained thus ever since.
Papa and I haven’t always seen eye to eye. In the beginning he scared the daylights out of me with his dry humor that I never knew quite how to take. I wound up crying much of the time, and I didn’t know then how much that must have bewildered him. Eventually I caught on, though, and started giving it right back to him, and that’s when our bond really began to grow.
Looking back over the father figures in my life, I have much for which to be grateful. And I am, beyond what these words can describe. Each of these amazing men has in his own way pointed me to the Father who makes all things new and loves beyond imagination.
I am truly blessed, and I’m thankful for every moment I’ve had with them, every lesson learned, every laugh and tear, every memory made. This is my focus on Father’s Day, this gratitude and not what could have been.
I can’t be anything but grateful when I smile over what is.
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A Write Where It Hurts column post